Polluted Runoff, Irresponsible Developments, and Community Action
Unless you are a Chesapeake Bay sailor you may never have been to the town of Oxford on the Eastern Shore. It's one of the oldest (officially founded in 1683) and sweetest places I know in Maryland.
CBF Maryland Executive Director Alison Prost. Photo by Nikki Davis.
But by the end of the century, much of Oxford could be gone—underwater. Sea levels in the area are expected to rise 2.6 to 4.3 feet by the end of the century. High tides and storms already flood many of the city streets, including the Historic District.
But there's good news. Oxford citizens realized they weren't powerless. Working together with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, the Environmental Finance Center at the University of Maryland, and other groups, Oxford residents are considering building a man-made wetland, strategically installing pumps and other strategies to reduce runoff, which adds to the flooding problems. And they are considering collecting a stormwater fee to pay for the work.
It's this kind of commitment to improve our environment and communities (the two are really synonymous), and a spirit of cooperation and innovation, that will finally save the Bay.
But not everybody thinks like the people in Oxford. Maybe that's because not everybody can see the immediate dangers of not acting. In fact, some private interest groups are working actively to reverse our progress to restore the Bay.
Just as Maryland finally is beginning to reduce polluted runoff (responsible for our closed beaches and unhealthy water after storms), we know critics will attempt to derail that effort in the upcoming legislative session. Some in the farm community are balking at proposed regulations that would require them to spread the right amount of chicken manure on fields rather than spread indiscriminately. And lobbyists for the homebuilders are preparing to fight regulations that would make builders responsible for new pollution they add to the Bay. Learn more about urban and suburban polluted runoff here.
And then there's Charles County. Elected officials there are considering opening up 150,000 acres of farm and forest to development to a possible 349 major subdivisions. The growth plan was literally designed by county developers and adopted wholesale by the county Planning Commission. The state says the plan could add up to 324,000 pounds of nitrogen per year from new septic systems alone to county waters.
In Queen Anne's County, elected officials are going ahead with one of the largest-ever development projects to be located within the Critical Area of ecological sensitivity, a 1079-unit development called Four Seasons on Kent Island. Sign our petition against this irresponsible, damaging development!
So we have our work cut out for us in the coming months. We will continue to make the case that cooperation and innovation can save the Bay.
Your help will be pivotal. As always I thank you.
Maryland Executive Director
Chesapeake Bay Foundation